How important is a LinkedIn profile?
In today’s ridiculously competitive marketplace, recruitment agencies are not only looking for the best people, they want to find them as painlessly and efficiently as possible. A well put-together LinkedIn profile not only separates the excellent from the average but can also determine the winner when it comes to a photo finish.
At Fill Recruitment we often head straight for LinkedIn on receipt of a new CV – firstly to ensure the candidate actually has a profile. We know from experience that, without one, some clients won’t even consider a candidate for interview, particularly if it’s a digital role that’s being advertised. And secondly to see what other people say about them, how they are rated and what skills their peers agree they have.
In essence we use the site as another way of profiling a potential employee in our quest to proffer the best candidates to our clients. It can also provide an insight into how professional they are and how much interest they show in our industry – in terms of the groups that they follow and the postings that they have made or liked.
Candidates are usually advised to keep the length of a CV to no more than three pages and to concentrate on their most recent experience, whereas a LinkedIn profile can showcase your complete employment history including skills that might not be immediately apparent on paper.
It allows you to paint a picture of yourself as a whole person, rather than the traditional collection of dates and buzzwords on a CV. And without the one-upmanship brought about by fancy design, LinkedIn’s standardised format with its lack of unnecessary bells and whistles does, to some extent, level the playing field.
LinkedIn profile checklist:
So how do you create a good profile?
Obviously, the first thing that recruiters and potential employers will see is your mugshot – as long as there is one, of course. If not, what have you got to hide? Whether it’s a bad haircut or just sheer laziness, the fact remains that profiles with a photo are 11 times more likely to be viewed than those
Your choice of avatar also says something about you. Sunscreen-slathered holiday snaps, wedding pictures complete with buttonholes and night-out selfies with wine glasses in the foreground are instant non-starters. A well-taken image shows that you are treating LinkedIn as a professional forum and not a social one.
LinkedIn is, in effect, a search engine. Your headline will help people who are looking for the services or skills you provide to find you. Not only is it an excellent place to include critical career-minded keywords, but it will show up frequently throughout key LinkedIn locations such as search results, connection invitations, employee listings, company pages and messages. This is where you can employ some creative writing in order to attract attention so make it professional but memorable.
Ideally, your summary should be between three and five short paragraphs, preferably with a bulleted section in the middle. It should walk the reader through your work passions, key skills, unique qualifications and a list of the various industries you’ve had exposure to over the years. This is your chance to differentiate yourself from your industry competitors.
Try to resist the temptation to cut and paste the contents of your CV into the experience column of your LinkedIn profile. It is much more than just a description of previous jobs – use it to display your accomplishments, talents and accolades clearly and compellingly.
There is a growing trend in the marketing industry for employers to ask for examples of candidates’ work, even if they are not creatives, to see how they were involved in the process and how they sold work in to clients. This section allows you to bring your descriptions to life with images, videos, links and other added extras. Put together a portfolio of work that you are proud of having been involved with, that can be viewed online by a prospective employer. According to LinkedIn, 100 per cent of the top 50 most engaging status updates in March included either a link, a video or an image.
Like your Christmas card list, much can be read into the number of connections that you have on LinkedIn, but there is a view that having 50 or fewer says one of three things:
1) You are a recluse who knows very few people,
2) You don’t like connecting with others, or
3) You are a technophobic Luddite who doesn’t understand social media.
None of these is ideal, but you really should have at least a festive 50-100 people with whom you’re connected as a starting point.
Endorsements can be a great way to show off your skills - as long as your profile isn’t overloaded with so many that it sends the wrong message. The secret to making them work for you is keeping your skills updated. As you transition between careers, develop new skills, or take on new responsibilities, drop outdated skills from your profile and add the ones you really want to be known
A positive recommendation will add significantly more credibility than any endorsement because it shows that someone took the time to provide details about your strengths and accomplishments - and were prepared to put their name to them. Recommendations from former managers and higher-level colleagues/clients tend to carry the most weight with potential employers. However, any positive recommendation can add significant depth to your profile.
You ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn in the same way you ask for a recommendation in real life - personally and respectfully. Start with people who know and respect you in your life right now and then expand to reconnect with fans from your past. Write a recommendation for someone you respect and that person is likely to return the favour (assuming he or she knows you well enough and has a positive perception of you).
It isn’t enough simply to be listed as a group member. You need to be an active participant in order to stand out as a leader in your industry. Active involvement in groups helps you make new primary connections which, in turn, grows your exposure to people who are looking for employees with your LinkedIn’s Help section offers useful guidance on building your profile, from getting started to growing your network.